The Celestial shrugged.
“Muchy devil maybe. Muchy moon-devil, plaps. Velly bad.”
“There’s a knife in that umbrella, Li Ho.”
But though his eyes looked blandly into mine, I couldn’t tell whether this was news to Li Ho or not....
Well, that’s the story. I’ve written it down while it’s fresh, sparing comment. Desire sang as we crossed the Inlet; little, low snatches of song with a hint of freedom in them. She had made her choice and it is never her way to look back. The old “Tillicum” rattled and chugged and the damp crept in around our feet. But the water was a path of gold and the sky a bowl of silver—and as an example of present day elopements it had certainly been fairly exciting.
Desire Spence bent earnestly over the writing pad which lay open upon her knee.
“Mrs. Benis Hamilton Spence,” she wrote. And then:
“Mrs. B. Hamilton Spence.”
“Mrs. Benis H. Spence.”
Over this last she sucked her pencil thoughtfully.
“One more!” prompted her husband encouragingly. “Don’t decide before you inspect our full line of goods.”
“Initials, only, lack character,” objected Desire. “There is nothing distinctive about ‘Mrs. B. H. Spence’. It doesn’t balance well, either. I think I’ll decide upon the ‘Benis H.’ I like it—although I have never heard of ‘Benis’ as a name before.”
“You are not supposed to have heard of it,” explained its owner complacently. “It is a very exclusive name, a family name. My mother’s paternal grandmother was a Benis.”
Desire was not attending. “Your nickname, too, is odd,” she mused. “How on earth could anyone make ‘Beans’ out of ‘Benis Hamilton?’”
“Very easily—but how did you know that anyone had?”
“Oh, from a touching inscription on one of your books, ’To Beans— from Bones.’”
“Well—there’s a whole history in that. It happened by a well defined process of evolution. When I went to school I had to have a name. A school boy’s proper name is no good to him. Proper names are simply not done. But the christening party found my combination rather a handful. No one could do anything with Benis and the obvious shortening of Hamilton was considered too Biblical. ‘Ham’, however, suggested ‘Piggy’. This might have done had there not already existed a ‘Piggy’ with a prior right. ‘Piggy’ suggested ‘Pork’, but ‘Pork’ isn’t a name. ‘Pork’ suggested ‘Beans’. And once more behold the survival of the fittest.”
The professor listened to her laugh with a strained expression which relaxed when no words followed it.
“I was afraid,” he admitted penitently, “that you might want to know why ‘Pork’ is not as much a name as ’Beans’.”